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Reading Groups

Transmission of Cultures

The Transmission of Cultures faculty seminar works through various archives of theoretical work on the interlinking concepts of memory, affect, community, and the public sphere.  The ongoing seminar offers an opportunity to follow one intriguing text/author to another without the usual teaching and research constraints. The seminar stands as an example of what remains so necessary in academic life:  the space and time to think speculatively and to read around one's subject.

For more information, please contact Victoria Hesford at

Humanities for the Environment

The HISB in conjunction with Humanities for the Environment invites interested faculty and graduate students to a series of informal seminars based on recent theoretical work in the Environmental Humanities.  We have selected readings from recent humanities scholarship that engages with issues of anthropogenic global warming.  If as a result of anthropogenic global warming we have entered a new geological era, dubbed by Paul Crutzen the Anthropocene, in which humanity emerges for the first time in its history as a truly planetary actant, then this newly discovered human agency calls out for nothing less than a newly developed theory of the human, and a new formulation of the nature and mission of the Humanities. Just as the Anthropocene marks the expansion of human influence on the environment, it also implies a new vulnerability posed by climate change that must account for its uneven effects on north and south, rich and poor, and human and non-human life. The writers we’ve selected take on this rethinking of humanity, the human, and the humanities in the fields of philosophy, history, cultural criticism and critical theory.

The HISB and its partner initiative, "Humanities for the Environment: Politics, Science, and Ecologies of Value," are delighted to invite participants to gather and discuss these writings as part of an ongoing speaker series that features many of the writers we’re reading, including Dipesh Chakrabarty, Anne McClintock, Timothy Morton, and Rob Nixon, all of whom will be speaking at Stony Brook in Fall 2014.

This semester's readings:
Timothy Morton, Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology After the End of the World (Minneapolis: U of Minnesota Press, 2013).
Rob Nixon,  Slow Violence  and the Environmentalism of the Poor (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2011).
Ursula K. Heise,  Sense of Place and Sense of Planet: The Environemental Imagination of the Global (New York: Oxford UP, 2008).
Elizabeth Kolbert,  The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History (New York: Henry Holt & Co., 2014).
Ramachandra Guha,  How Much Should a Person Consume? (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2006).
Dipesh Chakrabarty, “The Climate of History: Four Theses,”  Critical Inquiry 35 (Winter 2009): 197-222.

For more information, please contact E. Ann Kaplan at